Divorce is an emotional process, regardless of the circumstances. While sometimes people believe they can go through it without legal help, it’s usually a mistake. Even if the relationship ends amicably, many procedural laws need to be met to finalize a divorce, and you need a divorce attorney in Atlanta to help you comply.
Ask a Divorce Attorney in Atlanta: 5 Steps to Take to Take During a Divorce
1. Determine Your Financial Situation
The financial aspect of a divorce is complicated. According to Georgia law, all assets acquired during a marriage are considered joint property, regardless of the listing name of the property. The concept also applies to debt. If your spouse was the household’s primary breadwinner, you probably qualify for spousal support. To determine spousal support, the court will consider the following factors:
- The length of the marriage
- The standard of living while married
- Each spouse’s physical condition, earning capacity, and age
It’s essential to note that adultery and abandonment may nullify your right to spousal support. Before leaving the shared household, finding a top-rated divorce lawyer in Atlanta, GA is crucial. Hiding financial information from your lawyer is never a good idea, and withholding information from the court is considered a felony.
2. Organize your Documents
You will need documentation and evidence to support all your claims during the divorce process. Make copies of important documents such as property titles, medical records, and identity documents. Never move out of the shared household without taking essential documents with you, and if you cannot take the originals, make an electronic file with copies.
3. Explore the Possibility of Mediation
If you are on good terms with your spouse and wish to avoid the hassle of a court process, you can choose to get a divorce via mediation. While you will need a lawyer to help you draft and review agreements and negotiate on your behalf, you can save time and money. Most law firms offer mediator services, and both parties must agree with the mediator of choice before starting the process. In Georgia, mediation is a required precursor for a divorce process.
4. If You Have Kids, Draft a Parenting Plan
Divorce is more complicated if you have children, as Georgia law requires parents to present a parenting plan when filing for divorce. You can file jointly if you are on good terms with your spouse. Every parenting plan must consider:
- The child’s needs
- Who has authority for medical and schooling decisions
- Living and visitation arrangements
- Financial responsibilities
While the court is not obligated to accept your parenting plan, they will consider it when deciding what’s in the child’s (or children’s) best interest and determining custody. If the children are older than 11 years old, their opinion regarding who they want to live with will also be considered. During the court process, the court will also set an amount for child support (if applicable).
5. Establish a Support Network
It’s essential to have a support network to help you cope. People may feel discouraged from fighting for their rights because they feel overwhelmed. If you don’t have family or friends close, we recommend looking for support groups in your area.
6. Avoid Disclosing Information on Social Media or Discussing the Case
Everything you post on social media can be used against you in court. During a divorce process, avoiding posting details of your personal life, especially concerning the divorce itself, is recommended. Try to keep your personal life as private as possible and only discuss particulars about the proceedings with your lawyer. This can be difficult, but remember that even your closest friends can be asked to testify in court.
Never agree to meetings regarding the divorce in which your attorney is not present, and avoid signing documents or agreements before your lawyer reviews them.
How to Choose a Good Divorce Lawyer
A divorce attorney should demonstrate deep knowledge of court procedures and help you understand all your options. An excellent way to start is by getting a few personal recommendations or looking for divorce attorneys in the Georgia state bar’s database. Before hiring a lawyer, try to answer the following questions:
- Are you comfortable sharing personal information with them?
- Did they offer a clear outline of fees and related expenses?
- Are they respectful of your choices and how you wish to move forward?
- Can they provide references?
Getting a divorce is never easy, and you need professional support to move forward. An experienced lawyer can make the process easier by negotiating on your behalf and helping you comply with court rules. They will help you understand your rights and fight for them if necessary.